12 Snow Photography Tips (How to Capture Magical Snowfall Shots)

12 Snow Picture taking Tips (How to Capture Magical Snow Shots)

how to capture magical photos of the snow

If you want to capture stunning snow pictures, then you’ve come to the right place.

I love snow photoshoots, and I’ve been photographing snow for years . In this article, I share my absolute best tips for snow shots, including:

  • The best snow pictures settings
  • The optimum time to head out for pictures in the snow
  • How to keep your camera gear safe in the cold
  • How to photograph falling snow for a beautiful, ethereal effect
  • Magical snow picture ideas
  • Much more!

So if you’re prepared to learn how to take gorgeous photos in the snow, then let’s dive right in, starting with tip number one:

1 . Focus on contrast

Camera autofocus functions by identifying contrast…

…so when everything is usually white, your autofocus will have a hard time acquiring focus, which could lead to a lot of frustration as well as missed opportunities (imagine waiting while your lens hunts back and forth , back and forth ).

Fortunately, there’s a simple way around this:

Switch your camera to its single-point AF mode . Then position your primary focus point over a contrast-heavy area of your snow picture. For instance, you might focus on the particular bark of a tree, a few vegetation poking through the snow, the roof of a house – anything that pops against the white colored.

Next, press your shutter button halfway. If you’ve found the sufficiently contrasty part of the scene, the focus should lock – but if it still won’t work, you’ll need to determine an even more contrast-heavy subject.

Finally, hold down your shutter button when you recompose the shot. And when you’ve created the perfect structure, press the button all of those other way to take your perfect photo of snow!

photographing snow beginner's tips

Note that if you’re seeking to photograph a low-contrast picture, such as a white house against a snowy backdrop, you may want to give up on autofocus entirely. Switch your lens over to manual focus , then carefully turn your own lens’s focus ring until you’ve achieved perfect clarity. (For even better results, occurs camera’s Live View mode to preview the image at the rear LCD and zoom lens in to check the focus at a high magnification. )

2 . Choose the right digital camera settings for snow picture taking

While specific snow photoshoot settings will vary depending on the light, the situation, as well as your artistic intentions, I do have a few simple recommendations.

First, set your own camera to shoot in RAW ; when you use the RAW extendable, you’ll have far more information to do business with when editing. That way, you can recover clipped shadows plus highlights (the latter are usually pretty common in snowfall photography, thanks to the brightness associated with sun on snow).

ships on the ice

I’d also recommend you select your camera’s Evaluative metering mode , also known as Matrix metering . This will analyze the entire picture to achieve the best possible exposure in many situations (in fact, it is what I used for all the pictures in this article! ). If you’re struggling to get a good exposure , you can always try out switching over to Spot metering or Partial metering, but Evaluative metering is a good kick off point.

Third, you’ll need to dial in one or two stops associated with positive publicity compensation . Due to the quirks of its meter, your digital camera will try to make the snow appear gray. Exposure compensation will certainly counteract the meter to maintain things bright .

Notice: If you’re shooting in Guide mode, you can simply decrease the shutter speed by an end or two to achieve the same result. Speaking of which:

3. Shoot in Aperture Priority mode or even Manual mode

trees heavy with snow

Aperture Priority mode enables you to adjust the aperture plus ISO while your camera automatically changes the shutter speed to achieve a good publicity.

This is ideal for situations when the light is frequently changing or when you’re moving from subject to issue (if you’re photographing birds in flight, for instance). It’s also a lifesaver in cold weather, because you generally only need to spin a dial to adjust your aperture (and cold fingers aren’t so great meant for doing complex operations! ).

Plus, by changing the aperture, you can increase and decrease your depth of industry for different artistic looks.

Alternatively, you can shoot in Manual mode . You’ll need to adjust all your settings, not simply the aperture and ISO, so Manual mode is not ideal for fast-moving situations. But if you want complete control over your own camera settings, and you don’t mind working with cold fingers, then Manual mode is a great choice.

four. Capture snow while it’s still fresh

Here’s a simple snow photography idea:

If you would like magical photos, head out just after a fresh snowfall. The world will be sparkly and pristine. A person won’t have any foot prints, yellow snow, mud, or dirt to deal with; instead, you are able to focus on creating stunning game of your winter wonderland.

snow on a sunny day

That said, if you want footprint-free snow, you should plan the photos you are going to take and the purchase you’ll take them in. In any other case, you might accidentally trample the snow during the shooting practice, which will ruin your capability to capture future pristine photos.

Note that perfect snow doesn’t last long. Recording fresh snow might also indicate heading out early to take (before the kids get up! ), or monitoring the weather and achieving outside just as the snowfall stops. Of course , if your routine isn’t quite so versatile, that’s okay. Just take your camera to an area which you know people won’t disrupt, like a forest or industry.

5. Keep your batteries warm

You can’t take pictures in snow without fresh electric batteries – and unfortunately, in cold weather, your batteries won’t last long.

So carry at least two, and keep one in an inside of pocket at all times. (Depending on the camera’s battery life, I’d even recommend shooting with 3 or 4 batteries. You can grab third-party options online for cheap. )

When the battery pack in your camera runs reduced, replace it with  the warm one. Then put the drained  battery in your pocket; you may even be able to use it again as soon as it warms up.

6. Bag your own camera when you come inside

When you have a cold camera into a comfy environment, what happens? You get moisture build-up or condensation on the lens and potentially even on camera internals, which is – you suspected it! – not good .

Fortunately, it’s an easy problem to prevent.

When you head out into the cold, bring along a large ziplock bag. I keep one in my camera bag or jacket pocket.   Then, when you’re ready to go inside, just fill the ziplock bag with chilly air, put your digital camera in the bag, and make sure the lock is sealed tight.

Once you are in the house, put your digital camera somewhere it can warm up gradually. When the camera reaches area temperature, you can take it from the bag and use it normally.

(And if you decide to go back outside to picture after a brief rest at home, you can safely take your bagged camera out in the cool, open the bag outdoors, and start shooting again. )

Note that you’ll need to bag your cool camera before taking this into any kind of warm environment, including stores, heated elevators, and a heated car.

7. Don’t be worried about the weather

Snowy landscapes look good in both sunny  and  cloudy weather, so don’t restrict yourself to shooting in particular light . Simply learn to work with the lighting situations you’re given.

When the sky is cloudy, find elements that will break up the white snow and add interest to your pictures, such as trees, grasses, or even ice. When the weather will be sunny, look for shadows created by the bright sun (and if you shoot in the early morning or evening, do that which you can to capture the particular warm light on the chilly snow).

Furthermore, if it’s snowing, be sure to protect your camera, especially if the snow is damp and/or heavy. Consider using the raincover, or – if the wind is minimal – an umbrella.

snow photography trees on ice

While I personally don’t take my camera out in super-cold weather , some people carry out, and the resulting photos could be stunning.

8. Act fast

Snow changes quickly.   It can stop falling instantly.   And when the sun arrives, snow  melts, so that those beautiful trees go through dazzling to drab in no time at all.

Monitor the weather carefully. Look out your own window frequently. Have your own gear ready to go.

And if you think of a snow picture idea that you prefer, or if you look out the particular window and see beautiful snowfall photoshoot opportunities, don’t dawdle. Capture some snow pictures while you still can!

abstract snow photography of ice and branches

9. Have patience

This suggestion is a corollary to the one particular above – because whilst it’s important to always be ready, it’s also important to be patient, especially when you’re faced with quickly changing conditions.

You see, depending on the light, snowfall can look sparkly, ethereal, three-dimensional, flat, and so much more. Sometimes, getting the right look simply involves waiting for the light to change.

When the snow doesn’t look quite how you hoped, check the light. Is the sun behind a cloud? Is the sun too low or high in the particular sky?

After that wait for the right problems to take your shot.

snow in the sun with beautiful light

10. Play with perspective

As with all forms of photography, composition is an essential ingredient of big snow photos – and that means you should pay very careful attention to the items you’re including in the frame, and you should furthermore carefully consider your perspective .

For creative snowfall photos, try getting down low to shoot up, like this:

photographing snow up a tree

You might also find a deck or a slope that you can use to shoot down; that way, you can show the way the snow blankets the ground, weighs in at things down, and clings to everything .

As well as for each photo you get, look for opportunities to make the photo even better. Walk to either side of your subject, consider different angles, get in close up, walk far away, even change lenses. After all, who knows exactly what gorgeous photos await, if only you can find them?

11. Use a fast shutter speed to photograph falling snow

If snow is falling and also you want to capture the flakes as they drift toward the floor, you’ll need to use a quick shutter speed. Do a bit of experimentation, as the perfect placing will depend on the speed of the snowfall – but I’d suggest starting around 1/100s or more, then carefully reviewing the shots on your LCD to see the results.

Naturally , snow tends to fall once the world is dark and dreary, so you may struggle to achieve even a 1/100s shutter speed, especially if the snowfall is heavy or you’re shooting in the evening. Consider increasing your ISO or extending your aperture to get the shutter speed you need.

Alternatively, you can accept blurred snow; at 1/30s or so, the flakes may turn into long white streaks, which can give a wonderfully artistic look when done carefully.

12. Capture some sparkly bokeh

A sunny winter time is a great time to create bokeh thanks to all the sparkling ice and snow.

You see, pinpricks of light – e. g., light sparkling on snow – when made out of focus, can create outstanding bokeh effects, like this:

ice on a branch snow photography

So here’s what you do:

Very first, look for a subject that has some thing bright or shiny in the background. This background component could be light reflecting off melting snow, light broken by tree branches, or even light shining through snow. Set your camera to a wide-open aperture (e. gary the gadget guy., f/2. 8 or f/4), and make sure there is some distance between your subject as well as the shiny background.

Thanks to the wide aperture, your own subject will be in concentrate, but not the shiny history elements.

And when you hit the particular shutter button, you’ll have lovely background bokeh!

Snow photography suggestions: final words

Will you be out taking photos on the next snow day time? I’m planning on it, and am hope you are, too.

Have fun with your snow photography and experiment with various settings for creative outcomes. Just remember to dress for the weather and bag your camera.

Right now over to you:

Which of these snowfall photography tips and tips do you plan to try? Are you experiencing any snow photoshoot suggestions I missed? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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